Dumbness and Smartness in Heroism and Villainy
some insomniac musings by The Overlord Bear/Jem De Ocampo
No true hero is dumb, and a dumb villain is more dangerous than a smart villain.
Dumbness and Smartness in Heroism and Villainy
some insomniac musings by The Overlord Bear/Jem De Ocampo
No true hero is dumb, and a dumb villain is more dangerous than a smart villain.
The Five Rules I’d Set If I Have to Be a Teacher
some insomniac musings by The Overlord Bear/Jem De Ocampo
Since I’m bound to suck at it, then here, kids. Also, I’d rather teach about arts, letters, and soft sciences at the college/university level.
I have more posts waiting for upload, but I want to have better pacing in terms of posting, so I decided to just end this month with only the monthly update post after the last one. And since said end of the month is Halloween, a.k.a. All Saints’ Eve, why not have a reflection post about it and All Saints’ Day?
Gonna miss ya, Sir. Thanks very much again for all the great lessons, then!
Penman for Monday, January 21, 2019
I RETIRED last week after 35 years of service at the University of the Philippines, and I celebrated the special day with UP friends at a dinner graciously hosted by UP President Danilo Concepcion at his official residence, the newly renovated Executive House.
Standing in a wooded corner of Diliman close to C. P. Garcia, the Executive House was built by President Vicente Sinco in the late 1950s, and in its early years no president really lived there, but it became the venue for lively faculty colloquia, involving such intellectual stalwarts of the time as O.D. Corpuz, Ricardo Pascual, Cesar Adib Majul, Leopoldo Yabes, and Concepcion Dadufalza. When President Salvador P. Lopez decided to move with his wife into the place in 1969, they were reportedly met, in typical UP fashion, by a posse of protesters insisting on certain demands.
These historical precedents were…
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The hype is crazy, and this also has quite some stuff to learn about my uni, so yeah~
Penman for Monday, December 3, 2018
I HAD a whole other column lined up for this Monday, but that’s going to have to wait after last Wednesday’s titanic ballgame—you all know what I’m referring to, that heart-stopping semifinal do-or-die clash between the Adamson Soaring Falcons and the UP Fighting Maroons for a spot in the UAAP finals. Without a ticket to the live game at the Araneta Coliseum, I watched the nailbiter on a giant screen at the UP Theater with 2,000 other maroon-shirted fans, and screamed my head off as shrilly as the girls around me when UP sealed the 89-87 win with a shot in the closing seconds.
I can’t say that I’m a huge basketball fan—I hardly know what’s going on in the NBA or PBA—but I’m a big fan of school spirit, and have cheered for UP since my mother (BSE, 1956) indoctrinated me by playing…
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A refreshing piece about the university I wanna clown lots yet still thank very much.
Penman for Monday, October 29, 2018
I’VE BEEN seeing frothy messages on the Internet calling for the University of the Philippines to be shut down because it seems to be producing nothing more than anti-government critics and rebels (and, uhm, five out the seven new National Artists announced last week).
It’s no big secret that rebellion and resistance are coded into UP’s DNA, because it has always encouraged critical thinking, which in turn encourages—at least for a while, until complacency sets in—an attitude of dissent, of anti-authoritarianism, of rejection of the status quo. That’s how knowledge happens, as every scientist since Galileo has affirmed. Learning to lead requires critical thinking; learning to follow demands nothing more than blind conformity.
Apply that to the political sphere, and not surprisingly, UP has for the past century been a crucible of protest, against both internal and external forces seeking to influence its constituents’…
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Well, this is quite a refreshing read, alright. Makes me feel less like I’m being forced into silence whenever I’m in class, yo~
Penman for Monday, September 24, 2018
Let me dwell this week on the idea of academic freedom, which has been in focus again recently in the light of controversies involving conflicting ideologies on campus. It’s important because universities are the natural home of ideas, and therefore for clashes of ideas, which then take various forms of political and cultural expression.
Modern (and especially secular) universities stand on the bedrock of academic freedom, which at its simplest means one’s freedom to choose what to study and what to teach, and giving value to knowledge—not power, not money, not superstition—as our best guide to the way forward. That knowledge can be gained through research and reason, through experimentation, debate, and creative intuition. Hopefully that knowledge will yield better options for a thinking citizen.
That’s the basic concept, and while it sounds like something no one should quarrel with, the fact is that…
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The day’s preparation for class started off with me hurrying to have a fried rice breakfast, buying puto and kutsinta for snacks, and walking fast to the jeepney stop and to the classroom.
I put effort into keeping myself calm and not being like most people I’ve met, though, silently admitting my fault of putting unnecessary focus on writing a fill for a writing prompt in a fanfiction site forum thread to myself, followed by reminding myself to just acknowledge the fact that there will be consequences. Good actions get good consequences, and bad actions get bad consequences, although some would say that good actions usually get bad consequences, but I would bet that that sort of thinking isn’t really God-centered.
Things started going strange, though, when the jeepney I was riding entered the university premises. There was a noticeable lack of people waiting for the jeepney, and in hindsight, I should’ve seen the signs back at the avenue outside it, where lines were usually long and barkers were standing by for the next available jeepney to stop by.
Still, I guess my efforts at trying to keep myself calm as I thought about going to class again kept me quite distracted from thinking more about that strangeness. Sure, I was expecting my professor on Shakespeare to just pause for a while or note my tardy presence from his peripheral vision as he discussed about stuff related to As You Like It, but I still couldn’t stop myself from imagining him sputtering and groaning at some latecomer interrupting him, even if he was more likely to just snark at me with a level voice and a straight face if he were feeling that offended.
Hm, come to think of it, that irrational imagine spot sounds more like something I’m likely to do if I were in his shoes.
Anyway, I then went on the classroom, my backpack for provincial return commutes on my shoulders, while my traveling bag of the current week’s dirty school and boarding clothes was gripped by one hand. Along with that blue and black traveling bag and its logo similar to one of the logos of K-Pop boyband Seventeen was a plastic bag containing some pricey chemistry lab equipment bought from a store within the campus, equipment which I bought for my homeschooled younger sister upon my mother’s request because such stuff were cheaper in the city of my university. There were also scattered thoughts in my head, such as thoughts about how my Poetry professor would zigzag yet entertain with her discussion before, during, and after a pair of students did a report on a poetry guide chapter. There were also memories of watching celebrity intrigues – particularly of separated couples and scandalous individuals – being talked about on TV back when I was a child. And then there were the plans regarding upcoming groupworks, and there were the expectations regarding praise from fellow fools on that writing prompt fill I had cut myself off from writing more of before posting it and logging out to keep myself from going late for class any further.
But when I entered the first classroom I had to go to for the day…I found it empty.
That was when I really took note of how the halls had a lack of students sitting down by its walls, how the construction workers and their roadwork didn’t have the chatter of university students and faculty blending into their noise, and how there was a security guard who noticed me looking into an empty classroom, asking me “May klase ba po kayo ngayon, sir?”
That was when I found out that classes were suspended on that day because of a recent typhoon.
And upon the advice of the somewhat uncertain yet pretty polite man with the tight, armed, badged, and embroidered white shirt, I even went through the trouble of asking some faculty at my course’s department to confirm it.
I pretty much let out some awkward laughs and apologies as I was reminded about how I needed to be more attentive of the news.
Still, would it be abnormal if I worried about how the teachers won’t be able to give us students enough of a challenge because of the disrupted schedule?
To be honest, I’m not quite a supporter of the dominant – or, at least, very noticeable – vocal attitude that a significant amount of my schoolmates makes our university (in)famous for. My dad tells me that the exploited poor are more easily convinced by that sort of people, though, people who would stand up and shout out with spines straightened and chests puffed out as they say “There is a problem, and you need to stop causing it!” to people who are clearly doing something wrong or “You know you have been hurt and stolen from, so fight back and take back what is rightfully yours!” to people who are clearly being wronged. My late paternal grandpa was that sort of vocal person too, and he once dreamed of getting into the university I’m studying in now, but he never did, though he did maintain that gruff and tough attitude of his. Still, with the help of his dear wife and their hard work which included overseas work in the US, he managed to raise his nine kids well enough to get them graduated from college and striking out well on their own, with almost all of them married and with their own kids, and some of them even living out in the US and in Canada.
Despite all that, I’m not really a fan of that brand of vocal attitude he held on to, even if I do believe that the late 60s to the mid-80s was one of the worst, if not the worst, points of Philippine history.
It’s not that I don’t like following the style of held on to by people like those classmates of mine or my paternal grandpa simply because I just took the gossip about that activist stereotype surrounding my university at face value, though. Deep down, I felt like more of a wreck whenever I tried to be as hard as those people, even though I knew that there was something wrong and someone needed to take responsibility for it.
For example, back when that grandpa of mine was alive, my elementary schooler self told him during a visit that I had issues with bullies at school. In hindsight, I think he understood that I had issues with bullying, but when it came to his advice regarding how to deal with them…well, I cried, Mom had to take me back to the car, and I remember she and Dad telling me some time later that Grandpa was somewhat under the influence at that time.
But what advice did my grandpa give back then?
Well, I don’t remember his exact words, but they were along the lines of “Go fight back and beat them up!” and he delivered them with his rough and hoarse voice, colored with a tone that has also painted my memories of having to listen to my schoolmates and my professors doing name-calling and satirical shots against understandably problematic people who should be doing their jobs right.
Yeah, I guess that’s why I struggle with class discussions. That’s why, instead of posting a rant willy-nilly on the Net or shouting out during class, I would rant about my dismay to my parents and to other people whom I trust very much after classes and in private. I’d send them walls of text, or I’d be spitting with tones just like those schoolmates’, something I also found hard to do because I would feel like I would be a hypocrite whenever I tried to go deeper with thinking about how violent I would be if I did that. But still, I learned that it had to go out, and that there are people who would be patient and forgiving enough to help me get it out better. Better that way than to have my mouth be trigger-happy in more public spaces, after all.
Still, it’s a problem, and I struggle with it, especially since the temptation to be a sarcastic nut is something I now consider more dangerous than I think. I’ve been realizing that it would be doing a certain thing that I and those schoolmates of mine detest so much: dehumanizing other people. In other words: looking at others as if they had no faces of their own, calling others hopeless cases that should rot and die in prison, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Talk about hypocritical, no?
Though even with my awareness of all that, I feel as if I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place when I have to listen to such prideful offenders and keep quiet in humility. The struggle now reminds me of a certain aunt’s reminders of how the sin called pride is tied to our baseness, and, of course, it isn’t easy to deal with.
And now, I think I’m understanding my struggle there even better.
You see, in a prayer community gathering I recently attended, a guest speaker told us the story of Fr. Steven Scheier, who would have been dead and in Hell if Mama Mary didn’t intercede for him. It was a story the guest speaker presented as a part of an advocating presentation of the Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and although I honestly have doubts about going for those Devotions right now, something about Fr. Steven’s story struck me.
To be more specific, I think I felt particularly struck when it came to the part where Fr. Steven talked about the excuses he once considered delivering but could never deliver in the face of Jesus the Judge. That, and perhaps the fact that he faced Judgment with a capital ‘J,’ almost ended up in Hell, and miraculously lived to tell the tale was something striking in itself. I was quiet on my seat in the prayer community meeting venue, but my eyes felt kinda watery back then, and I felt like a lot of glass barriers were shattered by a spear that was thrust into my heart multiple times as well.
But the one thing that came out of it, one thing I want to share in more detail with you today, is a set of memories of my younger years.
Those memories, well…they were my memories of my crybaby self…memories of me crying loud and hard that you were likely to want me kicked out both figuratively and literally.
I guess we can say that an ordinary day for me back during those years, especially my elementary years, included an offended me crying very hard. I was easy pickings back then, you know? I didn’t like violently reacting, but I didn’t like ignoring the bullies and letting them run over me with their jeers about me being a weird fat boy, about me being a teacher’s pet who tried to force his classmates into speaking English more, and, inevitably, about me being a noisy crybaby. And even though I improved as I grew up, I had to face the struggle with pride I’m still facing, pride that had me thinking as if I’m a scapegoat as I held grudges and self-hatred in my heart for having to witness other people nearby being improper – especially when it involved them targeting my friends – and being unable to do anything right in the face of those things. A bunch of times, I lashed out, resulting in meetings with school authorities, and in hindsight, I was the one who gave the them the biggest part of those troubles, because they had to spend so much time staying with me and trying to convince me to calm down and think straighter, while the kids I was angry at went on with school activities more easily…and they also got more ammunition to shoot at me and my friends for the next bullying session…all because I acted more immature than the bullies.
Perhaps silence is more golden than I thought. Well, to be more specific, humble silence is golden, now that I think about it some more. Being silent because I don’t want to admit that there’s a problem and that I’m always right is a bad thing, and I think that sort of silence was something I indulged in a lot during my younger years, years in which I thought being an edgy and anti-social smartass was the pinnacle of coolness, a foolish belief which was further strengthened by certain anime and video game characters I easily fell for back then.
But being silent in humility…humble silence…I think I know what is now. Humble silence is keeping silent while more militant classmates and professors spit their insults out, not because critically thinking about the issues they discuss is a bad thing, but because it would be a bad idea to join in if all that can be gathered and given out in response during the moment are only barbs that are just as bad or even worse than the barbs that have been spat out already. Humble silence is still doing still worthwhile homework after classes and going back to still worthwhile classes when the time is supposed to be for such, all while being polite and even forgiving despite being in opposition to the displeasing delivery styles of those prideful yet potential-filled classmates and professors. Humble silence is also reporting a clearly directly attacking bully to the proper authorities and with proper processing but without gloating about it to the reported bully afterwards!
And hey, humble silence can even be crying quietly and privately over things that the tear glands can’t handle, all while still going on with life and trying to keep up with God’s assigned schedule for me instead of trying to nose around and hijacking others’ lives like I’m worthy enough to be the driver for them.
I still don’t think that I’d be able to get along with the barbed vocal attitude of a bunch of my schoolmates, but I think I can endure it better now.
Still, God Almighty help us all.
Recently, a professor asked me to be quiet during class.
To be more specific, her voice back then when she asked me to do so had some spiking intonations. Her arms would’ve caused banging sounds on the table if she were swinging them down there too.
What did I say back then? Well, that’s not really the point. Maybe it was good, maybe it was bad, but still, that’s not really the point.
I mean, come on, what’s the point of what I said back then if I drove it in right while she was delivering some very important notes to the class?
In other words, I ruined her groove. She did get back into her groove, but I can’t deny that I ruined it. Having a ruined groove sucks very much, you know?
Like, really, I should know, considering how I feel when I myself get interrupted while I’m doing stuff I consider important. It’s like being in the middle of an tough and epic battle in a game like, say, Pokemon, and the battle’s so tough and epic that the time it would take for me before I can save my game data will take a considerable while, but then someone snatches my gaming system while telling me to go do stuff like household chores.
Well, stuff like playing video games aren’t really stuff to classify as important in the grander scale of things right now, but hey, that doesn’t really take the importance of manners away, still. Even if I’d act immature by not understanding you, doing something tactless is still immature and will not help as much as we’d like to think. I can resist retaliating with more immaturity, yeah, but I would still feel the struggle because I’m not being understood well.
I mean, even if Prof sounded pissed back then, she still managed to avoid saying stronger words like “Shut up!” Such a thing likely helped in getting me to control myself better afterwards despite me having to deal with wounded pride, you know?
So yeah, manners and politeness…Now that I think about it, I guess I really take them for granted more than I think, especially considering how I interact with my family when they try to teach me such things. I think about myself and what I think is right too much, inflating my pride and all that, and my pride tends to make a lot of others’ actions seem ruder than they actually are. For example, I groan when they try to point out the importance of seemingly trivial things like who goes first when it comes to introducing people and not making mixture mountains out of my food during fine dining.
Sure, those things seem trivial, but my ignorance of them, if not dealt with properly, will hit me hard and harder once I meet more and more people. I may not know a lot of the consequences right now, but considering my level of social inclination and how people like my parents and one of my brothers are more socially inclined than me, I think crushing my pride and having some faith in others really is a better idea in my life.
And hey, that reminds me of how I need to be more critical of not only my words, but also how I deliver my words. At times, I think that using cruder words would deliver my point better, but there’s such a thing as overkill, and such a thing is as bad as not saying anything at all during the right times, considering my conflicting feelings when I have to listen to people with good points yet crude delivery. At times, I feel as if suddenly cutting in feels groovy, but if I don’t get the other person’s groove, then my groove is more likely to be noise than music, with that interruption incident with my professor being a very good example. And at times, being loud with my fun seems like something to be happy about, but not everyone thinks the same way I do, and I gotta acknowledge things like my parents tapping my shoulder and quietly telling me to keep my volume down.
I still have a long way to go, alright, especially considering how I still feel the sting of the pride that shouldn’t be in me even when my parents ask me to use my indoor voice while expressing their understanding of my inclinations toward increasing my volume whenever I become more enthusiastic.
Now, more about that recent time when my professor asked me to be quiet because I interrupted her very hard, I felt nervousness while being quiet after that despite feeling irritation, particularly when she started talking about some serious social issues. I could feel the understandable yet still toxic wrath at the corruption of society, particularly its leaders, and even though I wanted to say that each of us are leaders in a way as well, I knew that I still have a lot to learn, and that speaking my mind out would likely lead to a bigger explosion that would put the progress of my education in danger.
Indeed, for me to learn manners and politeness better, I have to look at others more than I look at myself. Such reminds me of something I learned in poetry classes, and that something is the importance of learning about tradition before criticizing and experimenting.
And speaking of learning about tradition – particularly in terms of theory – in my studies as a Creative Writing student, it’s like learning manners and politeness, alright. My professors have talked about how most students don’t like learning about that, reminding me of how I also need to have some faith in my professors despite their imperfections, for they know better than I do when it comes to becoming the proper writer I should be. And tradition may not be perfect, but they have tried and tested stuff, and with all that, we aim to work towards improving it more and more.
Some people say that most of us peeps these days don’t use common sense, but if you ask me, I think that we use a form of common sense that needs to be shaped better every single day of our lives.
And before I even try to help in shaping that groovy thing called “common sense” better, why should I claim that I know what being groovy is when I don’t know what others consider groovy? Why should I claim that I understand others when I don’t want to interact with others? Why should I claim that I know what better manners are when I don’t know what society considers good manners?
And why even claim that I’m self-made when my existence in this world is something that never would’ve happened if it weren’t because of others as well?
Yes, moments like these remind me of how essential manners and politeness are in our lives…and learning them better also requires interacting with and learning from others, something which we struggle with a lot because of things like pride.
So yes, God Almighty keep on helping us all, for I don’t think we’d ever end up learning if we don’t have things like faith.
English translations of Japanese song lyrics
Catholic Author, Speaker, Apologist, and Evangelist
Another obvious villain we can cancel anytime.
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